Elvis - A Musical Inventory, Another Elvis World Mystery?

By Rogier van LuykenJul 15, 2004
Elvis - A Musical Inventory, Another Elvis World Mystery?
The book 'Elvis - A Musical Inventory' by French writer Richard Boussiron, released by Music Mentor Books (UK) has been released. This book has been announced and delayed several times but now it is finally out. Wondering if fans could obtain this book in the normal bookshops I called the American Book Centre store in Amsterdam. They never heard of the book or the writer and the ISBN number didn't seem to exist in their huge data base. The book claims to hold information on Elvis' Sun Sessions that was never before made public, straight out of the personal notebooks of Marion Keisker (Sam Phillips' assistant). Flipping through the book I anticipated to see pictures or scan's from those notes but the writer states: 'Understandably, she was not prepared to let them out of her sight and Sam (Barnes - another researcher - RvL) was therefore obliged to manually transcribe all the data'. I would have liked to include some reproductions of Marion's notes in this book; unfortunately, it is not known what became of them after her death'. So we just have to believe the fact that Marion did make notes and that all the info printed here is correct. To make things worse a.k.a. more mysterious, is the message on the back cover of the book: 'Richard sadly died in May 2004, shortly before this book went to press'. So, sadly, we never can ask him any questions about the things he writes. Even his picture is not in the book and typing his name at Google, you get only links to this book, no life for Richard on the internet before that to be found, or so it seems. And: the backbone of the book is based on the research of two men: Samuel Barnes and Graham Metson and, you've guessed it right, they are also already up in heaven... Richard thanks a lot of well known people in his book for providing all kinds of information: Trevor Cajiao, Stuart Colman, Colin Escott, Ernst Jorgensen and Peter Guralnick... Names that ring bells for the true Elvis fans and names with credit, might I add. Have these people really 'assisted him' as he claims? 'I wonder, I wonder, I wonder...'. The information on the Sun Sessions in sensational, to say the least. Many tapes are lost or erased, but Elvis sang a huge amount of wonderful stuff at Sun, if we can believe the info. Richard really did do a lot of research to the origin of each and every song and that is, I must say, great to read. We also get info on more acetates like 'Fool, Fool, Fool' that have been recorded but are reported lost. Everything is in here: from Elvis' childhood to his live performances. From the Sun Sessions to the first TV appearances. If all the information in this book is true, the Elvis fans have a lot to pray, hope and search for. But since this is not the info that Ernst Jorgensen shared with us, we must stay critical about this so called 'factual information' and keep our feet on the ground. But, this is an interesting view into the start of Elvis' career. Hopefully more info from Ernst will come with his Sun Book next year, maybe Ernst can also give some info about his cooperation with this book. Any info on 'mystery men' Richard Boussiron, Samuel Barnes and Graham Metson is more then welcome. Maybe someone else can shed any light on these people that makes this book and information more trustworthy. For now: buy the book and enjoy all the info presented. And who knows, dreams can come true, you never know when you might get lucky. Updated July 15 with reactions from Ernst Jorgensen And Ger Rijff on this mysterious book: Here's a response from Ernst: "I can assure you that none of these SUN titles have materialized at BMG. I think all intelligent fans will understand and believe that if we had any of such rarities we would have used them on ELVIS AT SUN." I also talked to Ger Rijff today. His opinion is also that the book is a 100% fake: 'It is like the diary's from Hitler'. According to Ger Rijff no one ever saw the notebooks from Marion and the writer burnt everything behind him so no one could ask any questions. The writer was found dead in the Paris river the Seine by the way. The two american invesigators talked about are not known by anyone and it is not sure if they ever excisted at all. It all sounds like a good detective movie but the sad thing is that the book is mostly fake. Decide for your self if you want to buy it but Ger Rijff states that: 'A joke is fine but this is going to far. It gives false information and raises expectations with the fans that will never be satisfied'.
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Music Mentor Books (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 21, 2004report abuse
I am the person responsible for publishing ELVIS: A MUSICAL INVENTORY 1939-55 and would like to respond to several points in Rogier van Luyken's review.

I'm not quite sure what point Mr van Luyken is making when he says the American Book Centre in Amsterdam had never heard of the author or the book. Surely that is not so surprising with a brand new title and a first-time author? I suspect they were unable to find it on their database because the book is a UK publication, and it can sometimes take a considerable length of time for details to filter through to databases in other countries. Although it is probably too specialised for most bookshops to stock it, the book can be ordered anywhere in the world under ISBN 0-9519888-7-5 or direct from us through our website.

It is true that the Sun session information is sensational. This is because it comes directly from the master document - Marion Keisker's own notes - rather than from Steve Sholes' scribbled (and inaccurate) list of Sun tapes and other scraps of incomplete information. Marion was well aware of their value, which is why she told very few people about their existence and also why she did not want to let them out of her sight.

It would have been helpful to include illustrations of Marion's notes in the book, but unfortunately Sam Barnes did not photograph or photocopy them. Perhaps Marion objected to this, or perhaps he did not feel it was necessary (remember, this was in the innocent days of 1970, when rock'n'roll research was still in its infancy and Elvis fans demanded much less proof than they do nowadays). Either way, I don't think it makes much difference. The people who don't believe the notes existed will also say that the illustrations are fakes. Surely the best way forward would be for someone to track down Marian's son and ask him whether the notes existed + what happened to them after her death? You never know, he may still have them. Now, wouldn't that be something?

Ernst Jorgensen's brief comment confirms what it says in the book: in the majority of cases, Sam Phillips reused tapes containing rejected takes/cuts, so very little unissued Elvis material was included in the tapes he handed over to RCA.

However, let us keep things in proportion: the Sun Sessions is only one of seven chapters. The rest of the book contains a vast amount of original research based on interviews with various people who knew Elvis (church ministers, his teacher, a couple of his father's workmates, his boss at Crown Electric, etc), radio/TV station archives and public performance copyright records. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever carried out such research before or since. Although it is difficult to evidence this information after so many years, much of it was drawn from public and business records, some of which may still exist. For example, the details of Elvis' WELO appearances were taken from the radio station's archives. Perhaps one of Elvis' many fans in Mississippi could take a trip out to Tupelo and check it out?

Richard Boussiron is only a 'mystery man' in Elvis circles. He was a frequent and prolific contributor to the British magazine, The Eddie Cochran Connection, for a number of years and was given an honorary life membership in 2002 in recognition of his work. If anyone wishes to reassure themselves as to his integrity and reliability as a researcher, I suggest they contact the editor, Bill Beard. (For the record, Richard Boussiron died from a cerebral haemorrhage while standing next to the River Seine in Boulogne. I am sure he did not do this to avoid being asked questions about his book.)

Mr van Luyken has no need to wonder whether many of the 'famous names' listed in the Acknowledgments assisted the author. They are not dead, so why doesn't he ask them? Of the people he mentions, I can confirm that Stuart Colman, Ernst Jorgensen and Peter Guralnick definitely did, because I was in direct contact with them on the Richard's behalf.

I was particularly disappointed with Ger Rijff's comments. What possible basis does he have for stating that the information is "false"? OK, maybe the book looks too good to be true, and maybe he cannot verify the data using other sources (that's always the problem with original, previously unpublished research), but that does not automatically make it a "100% fake". If Mr Rijff has reliable evidence that disproves any of the information in the book, then he should make it public; if he has no evidence, then I invite him to reconsider his statement.

Is he seriously suggesting that three madmen spent 30 years fabricating all of this information, writing it up in dozens of files in meticulous detail, doing a vast amount of discographical research into the most obscure titles, etc etc, simply to con Elvis fans? If that was the intention, one person could have produced it in a few weeks. The motive certainly wasn't money either. There's very little profit in such highly specialised books, even about Elvis. It just doesn't make sense.

Mr Rijff also questions whether the original researchers, Sam Barnes and Graham Metson, ever existed. Sam and Graham advertised in Goldmine in 1983 for someone to assist them with discographical research, which is how Richard Boussiron became involved with the project. If Mr Rijff would care to look through the relevant back copies, he will find the proof there in black and white.

In closing, I would like to say that Music Mentor Books is a reputable publishing house specialising in music reference books. We do not publish "jokes". We investigated the author and his claims thoroughly before deciding to publish this book. We were totally satisfied as to the author's integrity, and were persuaded by additional information he supplied - and also some from independent sources - that the content of this book is based on fact. We knew that it would be controversial, but that is no reason to deprive Elvis fans of so much fascinating new information about the early life of the greatest singer/performer that ever lived.

Best wishes,George Groom-White, Music Mentor Books
Music Mentor Books (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 21, 2004
Invisible because there was a link/email included
Tony Clapson (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 26, 2004report abuse
I could not agree more, Hans. This book held great promise, but was obviously too good to be true. We had this sort of thing in the nineties with the details of a third 1968 sit down show that was said to have been performed. Even now, people still ask about this show and some fans were hoping that it would be on the recent DVD package. These are probably the same people that believe Elvis is still alive!
Hans Otto (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 20, 2004report abuse
I agree with this verdict. Revealing such absolutely revolutionary information on Elvis' early recordings without ANY kind of reference to the sources of information is a fundamental flaw. (Marions diaries "is lost", and there are not a single case where independent sources are named...)In other words; it flunks on all kinds of basic historical methodology. I was indeed looking forward the getting this book, but after having read it, I'm sorry to say it can't be taken seriously. Sorry, but true :-(

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